Industry Trends

The Biggest Challenges Agencies Face Today with Michael Farmer

Running or owning an agency is not easy. And it seems that these agency problems and challenges are getting tougher to face every year. Many agencies are watching their workloads grow while their fees and profits seem frozen in time. My podcast guest Michael Farmer has been tracking the evolution of agency work for the past 25 years. He says that the challenges of modern agency owners can largely be traced to the industry turning a blind eye to the issues of scope creep while at the same time, not evolving their fees or payment structures. While this issue can seem overwhelming, Michael has a proven model that will show you how to get a handle on your scope creep and a way to figure out the appropriate charges for that work. Michael and I will walk you through it all as well as: Some of the big problems and challenges agencies face today Why the future is bright for small to mid-sized independent agencies Why your agency needs a uniform approach for working with clients and an example of what that looks like The documented scope of work document: what should this look like? Why it’s harder than ever for agencies to make money Michael’s “price for the work” metric Creating accountability with client heads Why agencies probably will have an easier time fixing scope of work than they think What agencies can do right now to start fixing some of these mistakes Michael Farmer grew up in the Midwest and was the first child in his family to go to college. He went to Princeton on an NROTC scholarship and worked at various jobs to pay the difference. After that, he spent 5 years [...]

By |July 22nd, 2016|

Developing A Content Marketing Strategy that Actually Works with Joe Pulizzi

Strategy. Consistency. Focus. These are the key elements of content marketing strategy success in today’s content marketing world, according to my podcast guest, Joe Pulizzi. Joe is the founder of Content Marketing Institute and it’s cornerstone event Content Marketing World so he’s been teaching and living content for a long time. Today’s agencies have to figure out the content game. You need to know when your client needs to create content, how to make it sticky and relevant and how to do it profitably. The winning content formula of strategy + consistency + focus is what it takes to build an audience and that is where the value lies - in getting, keeping and maintaining an audience. Content for content’s sake is just more noise.   Joe and I help you to put this content strategy puzzle together by showing you: What agencies and clients need to do to develop a content marketing strategy that actually succeeds Why you need to focus on your email list more than people you are connected with on social media How agencies can leverage their own content better Why you need to focus on content in specific platforms over trying to be everywhere What differentiates the agencies that do content marketing extremely well Old school deliverables that still work today Why you need a content marketing mission statement Why the editing process is a crucial part of content marketing The ways smart agencies get smart enough to create valuable content Things agencies can do right now to get the content marketing techniques discussed in this episode rolling Joe’s events Joe Pulizzi is the founder of Content Marketing Institute, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes [...]

By |June 27th, 2016|

Today’s Agency Employees Crisis and What to Do About It

New business is on the upswing, you’re experiencing shorter sales cycles, and your business is growing by leaps and bounds. All of that is great. But you’re still facing a crisis. An agency employee crisis. There just aren’t enough qualified people to fill the spots needed to service all that business. Or maybe you have just enough employees right now but you are seeing other agencies lose staff to corporate clients and media groups and are fearful that you might be next.    It’s time to take a breath and discover all the reasons that your agency employees want to stay with you and how you can attract more of the same. Your employees have lots of reasons they like agency work and you just might be surprised at the number one reason they offer for wanting to stay. Believe it or not, it’s not about the money.    Find out my take on the current agency employee situation as I detail out:   The agency employees shortage: why it’s happening right now What agency employees want most (and how to use this to attract and retain them) Things that will cause employees to leave The best benefits you can offer to attract and retain employees How you can compete with the corporate world for employees Why you need to be actively looking for employees, even if you don’t need them right now Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency over the last 20-years. And all through the year, he straddles the fence of working in his agency and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies in a variety of ways. He works [...]

By |June 6th, 2016|

Looking Ahead into the Future of Business for Agencies

As agency leaders, we’re as good as our last idea. So we’re always on the lookout for fresh thinking and emerging trends to take to our clients. But how do we do that in today’s overloaded information age where there is never enough time and so many other distractions? And how can we look into the future of business as it relates to the agency space? “Open your eyes, get out of your comfort zone, and learn about the world around you.” These are the words of wisdom from my podcast guest, Rohit Bhargava.   Rohit is a non-obvious trend curator and an expert in helping brands and leaders be more influential. He helps agencies re-think their role when it comes to what they're supposed to be doing for their customers. In his mind, it all comes down to understanding a customer's true business need, rather than what they think they’re asking for. It’s looking around, being curious and finding the non-obvious in the everyday.    Some highlights of our conversation include: Working as a solopreneur vs. working in an agency Rohit’s trend report that started as a blog post Habits for being a trend spotter Big trends for 2016 What lies ahead for the future of business for agencies VR: How Virtual Reality can become important to agencies Data overload: what will happen when all the data available to different parties eventually gets pooled together? Understanding your clients’ true needs and becoming their true partner Architecting an Innovation Day to open up your clients’ wallets How to teach trend-creating thinking to employees coming out of college Rohit Bhargava is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author of five books on topics as wide ranging as [...]

By |May 23rd, 2016|

The Evolution of Digital Marketing in the Agency Space with Nick Westergaard

A lot of agencies are still trying to figure out how to wrap their arms around digital since the evolution of digital marketing - what it means, how they deliver the benefits of it to their clients, what parts of digital to embrace internally and what parts to outsource. My podcast guest Nick Westergaard has been down that road already and has blazed a trail for the rest of us to follow.   Nick’s agency transformed from a very traditional ad agency (Westergaard Agency) to the digital powerhouse they are today -- Brand Driven Digital. They saw the writing on the wall with the evolution of digital marketing and decided to jump in with both feet and make some big changes to keep moving their agency moving forward. They even went so far as to launch a live, in-person annual event called the Social Brand Forum to bring all things digital to the Midwest. Nick and I explore all the ways that you too can look outside your box and move your agency forward in the digital space with: How Nick took his traditional agency and transitioned it to becoming a digital powerhouse The evolution of digital marketing versus traditional marketing in the agency space The differences and similarities between traditional and digital marketing and why they really aren’t all that different Social Brand Forum: Brand Driven Digital’s yearly live event The business strategy behind having a live event Why you should get out and attend events The importance of prioritizing your agency as a client Why experimentation is so important for your agency’s success Nick Westergaard is a strategist, speaker, author, and educator. He is the chief brand strategist at Brand Driven Digital, where [...]

By |April 12th, 2016|

Digital Media Buying, Programmatic Buying & Real-Time Bidding Best Practices with Jay Friedman

If you’ve been in the agency business for any length of time you know that nothing is static in our world. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a constant state of change like our industry is in now. Many of these evolutionary changes in our business surround digital media buying, programmatic buying, and real-time bidding in the digital paid media space.  These things are no longer an option anymore; they are a necessity. This is a topic that I know you’re hungry to learn more about, so, in this podcast, Jay Friedman and I talk about the ways agencies can use these tools to effectively market themselves and reach their target audiences in the digital media space. In this podcast, Jay will help you make sense of this changing environment by showing you: how programmatic buying flips the status quo by asking the questions that really matter when starting out what it takes to get started and build momentum how you can get the results you want when starting in the digital media space the steps he recommends agencies take to effectively use programmatic buying and digital media for success how agencies can become more educated and find the right partners to effectively market themselves in the digital media space. ways agencies can utilize programmatic buying for better accuracy in targeting to their audiences. Jay Friedman is a nationally recognized and accomplished digital media expert, speaker, writer and author. Jay has been with the Goodway Group for the past 10 years in their digital division.  You'll find him often at some top industry conferences, writing for lead industry publications and websites. He's even written some books. Some of his latest books are the 7th [...]

By |December 9th, 2015|

Guaranteeing Your Work Using Predictive Marketing with Stephen Woessner

I know and work with a lot of agency owners who do incredible work for their clients but very few of them are willing to guarantee that work with predictive marketing and write their clients a refund check if it doesn’t deliver the results. Are you willing to guarantee your work? To make that kind of promise — you’d better be ready to bring the goods. In my podcast conversation with Stephen Woessner we dig into how today’s agency needs to understand their client’s need for verifiable and predictive ROI and that the agencies that can deliver on that expectation, can plan on a long and fruitful existence. To build that kind of agency — it takes a brilliant methodology, incredible transparency and more accountability than most agencies have in their processes. But it is possible.  And highly profitable. Stephen and I talk predictive marketing specifics about how agencies can deliver leads and sales for their clients and best of all — get credit for doing so. We get into the nitty gritty of issues like bounce rates and the impact that has on sales and we talk philosophically about recognizing that your clients exist in a holistic ecosystem and their agency had better be able to influence every facet of it. You’ll be taking notes through this one so be prepared. To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site ( and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web. If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below. If you're going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn't you get the benefits too? Welcome to Build a Better Agency, [...]

By |November 4th, 2015|

Essential Business Building Strategies You Need to Grow Your Agency with Jason Falls

As an agency owner, you know that if you're not ready to evolve your agency with business building strategies, you'd better get ready to retire. The agency business is undergoing an incredible metamorphosis and most agency owners are running at full speed to keep up. That's where my conversation with Jason Falls, Senior Vice-President, Digital Strategy at Elasticity and author of several books on social media and email marketing, started. (listen to the podcast here) From there we move to agency hierarchy and structure, the impact of millennials on current day politics and the importance of building strategic alliances. It's a whirlwind hour of debate, stories and a few good laughs.  I think you'll not only enjoy it, but you'll also get some business building strategies you can put into play right away. To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site ( and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web. If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below. If you're going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn't you get the benefits too? Welcome to Build a Better Agency, where we show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invest in employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of expertise as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan. Drew: Hey everybody, this is Drew McLellan, and I am really excited to be with you today. As an agency owner, I know all too well the risks we take every day. This podcast is about making sure if we're going to take [...]

By |October 19th, 2015|

Hey Agency Owner – How’s Your Thought Leadership Strategy?

We work hard to help our agency clients embrace thought leadership as a way to position themselves as a premiere choice among their competitors. Which means we need to walk our talk, eat our own dog food or whatever cliché you'd like to use to prove that it works. We're very grateful that many other publications seek us out to comment on various aspects of the agency business and we're always excited about sharing what we've learned and try to teach. Rather than making you hop all over the web looking for Agency Management Institute's examples of thought leadership -- we thought we'd give you this handy list. As always -- we'd love to hear your thoughts on any of the topics below. Digital Marketer -- 4 Ways to Build a Better Agency with Smarter Hires The Agency Post -- How to Stop Your Client From Shopping Around B2B Marketing -- 5 Ways to Avoid the Last Minute New Business Crunch Washington Post -- Overstaffing Can Break Your Small Business iMedia Connection -- Why You Need to Stop Billing By the Hour Smart Insights -- How Can Agency Account Managers Build Better Client Relationships Marketing Agency Insider -- 10 Ways to Establish Order in Your Advertising Agency -- When You Should Hire Full Time Staff Digiday -- Time to Retire the Digital Jedi The Agency Post -- Use Content to Tell Your Agency's Story The Agency Post -- Building An Internal Content Strategy for the Long Haul -- How to Transition from Corporate Thinking to Small Business Thinking -- 4 Ways to Compete With the Big Guys Steamfeed -- One Page: The Short, Simple Way to Plan Your Agency's Future Linked2Leadership -- On Leadership, Workshops and Organizational Health Under 30 CEO -- Why Good Writing Matters and 4 Ways to Teach It to Your Team LinkedIn -- Marketers -- Take Digital Out of Your Vocabulary Washington [...]

By |November 24th, 2014|